The first two BloodRayne games were flawed attempts at forging a new female warrior into an action adventure title that would be on par with the likes of Lara Croft, a badass with boobs so to say. Obviously the main character of the series, Rayne, while extremely sultry and provocative at initial appearance (a whorish vampire in skintight leather) ended up as more of a marketing ploy then a worthwhile heroine to emotionally get attached with.
After a seven year slumber and three horrendous movie adaptations credited to the wondrous talent of Uwe Boll, BloodRayne: Betrayal arrives to inject a new dose of vampire-skewering into the lingering series that was often thought to be dead.
A downloadable arcade game available for PS3 and 360, Betrayal is a complete departure from the two games before it. This is a side-scrolling action game that features all the delicate gameplay intricacies that come attached with the type, as does the incredible difficulty that fueled classics of the past such as Mega Man and Castlevania.
This is not only a far cry for how Betrayal plays differently than the former BloodRayne games but also how it’s meant to be portrayed. Story is not the driving force here, as in most arcade games available for download. Instead, the game’s style is the primary focus to get players involved. Sure, there’s a castle to explore and a Dracula-esque mega vampire to plunge your blades into, but this does little to suffice for a plot to care about. The art is king here.
Modern side-scrollers have found ingenious ways of using next-gen graphics for maximum effect; some even compete with big budget retail games. Betrayal is on a whole other level when it comes to its visuals however. Mixing the styles of hand-drawn anime and dynamic cartoons, no game comes close to mimicking its unique look. The character models pop off screen and move so fluidly that it’s like watching a comic book come to life.
The developers have achieved the rare undertaking of making the graphics enhance the gameplay, which boosts an aesthetic flow to the combat. Gushes of oozing blood have never looked as satisfying, especially in such an animated form. The character designs are simplistic and seem to be influenced from numerous monster features from the past decades, but this makes them all easy to tell apart and instantly recognizable. Larger battles turn into a test of anticipation and memorizing attacks from the different types of enemies that are ferociously trying to tear Rayne apart.
If the visuals won’t floor you in awe, then the insane difficulty will. This is touchy territory when it comes to complaints in the side-scroller category. Hardcore gamers love a challenge and perfecting a stage for maximum score; they will truly adore Betrayal. Casual gamers however, will give up after the second level or be forced to buy a new controller after their old one is permanently embedded in the drywall due to inconceivable frustration and rage. Being challenging is one thing, but unfair is a whole different bag of tricks.
The hit detection is all over the place, and Rayne falls victim to the age old complication of no-chance respawn. If you get hit by an enemy while jumping with full health, a handful of others can assault you before you even touch the ground. Once Rayne is in the animation of getting damaged she is vulnerable to getting hit from all sides. This single-handily leads to hundreds of unfair deaths.
The controls are also flimsy and the result is dying prematurely. Button-mashing is key to surviving in Betrayal and once again. When Rayne is committed to an attack combo then she is stuck in that specific animation until it’s complete. It’s so annoying to progress through a lengthy level with perfect health and ammo only to die due to circumstances that are out of the your hands. This is such a shame too because Betrayal is an addictive and fun game to play.
All the pieces are in place for it to work as a whole, especially in its violent combat. Rayne moves like a ninja and has a wide range of moves to perform for dispatching her enemies. The action is fast-paced and runs silky smooth, once you get the hang of all the weaknesses within the game it’s a good time. But settling for inadequacy is not a good sign of recommendation and it isolates a whole slew of gamers who aren’t willing to replay levels over and over again and comply with such demanding frustration.
Masters of patience and determination will may be happy with trying to get the best rank on each level (and unlock one of the most rewarding achievements/trophies out there as a result) but it’s not enough incentive to play Betrayal after it’s beaten. Even the in-game unlockables are disappointing given the streamlined structure.
It would have been much more rewarding to power up Rayne slowly so she can go back and redo harsh levels and surpass them with ease. But outside of adding more ammo to her twin shooters and enhancing her pointless life bar by collecting hidden skulls throughout the environments, the opportunity for heavy expansion is wasted.
Fans of climbing leaderboards for a higher score to claim as their own will prove to be Betrayal‘s biggest admirers, and rightfully so. Anyone who enjoys side-scrollers will get a kick out of the action on display here and the settled territory that comes with it. The gameplay complements the old-school mentality of gaming during a time of simplicity and basic functions.But it’s 2011, and that means it’s not acceptable for a game of this nature to still have the faults that severely tear the fun-factor quota down such a large portion.
If Betrayal was more finely tuned with minor adjustments, the difficulty could be matched by skill. Aside from being a pretty face that’s extremely easy on the eyes, BloodRayne: Betrayal is too similar to its sexy wannabe heroine: all bark but no bite. For a game with vampires, that’s even worse.
This review is based on a copy of the game which we received for review purposes.
Only those with a teeth-grinding sense of willpower will get through this one, as the difficulty borders on impossible, with too many unfair deaths due to bad platforming, clumsy controls, and wonky mechanics. Unless you want to experience some frustration, stay away from BloodRayne: Betrayal.